Carefree M.D. Blog

Toothpaste on a Cold Sore? Myths and Real Remedies

Carefree MD

July 19, 2021 | Blog

Ever thought of putting toothpaste on a cold sore? You’re not alone. Turns out there’s a lot of “home remedies” for these very common, frustration ailments. 

However, not all cold sore home remedies are safe. This post will settle some of the debate on there about whether or not putting toothpaste on a cold sore actually works. Plus, you’ll discover other home remedies and misconceptions about cold sores.

Check it out.

What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are painful lumps and blisters on your face, particularly around your lips. These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. And they’re highly contagious.

Cold sores are extremely common. In fact, 90% of the world population has or has had one before. Luckily, that means that there are a lot of remedies out there for them. 

But is toothpaste really one of them?

Does Toothpaste on a Cold Sore Work?

One of the most popular home remedies is putting toothpaste on a cold sore. And in theory, this could work…
Many types and brands of toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which can dry out your skin. This comes in handy when it comes to cold sores.

This is because toothpaste dries the area out, minimizing the risk of developing painful blisters.

However, there’s no scientific evidence that proves this. 

Putting toothpaste on a cold sore only has anecdotal evidence. That means that it’s based on personal experience. Still, it’s worth a try if you want a cheap home remedy for a cold sore.

How to Apply Toothpaste on a Cold Sore

Many people feel a cold sore coming up even before it appears. A tingling and itching sensation around your lips is a common sign. 

Take some white, non-gel toothpaste with SLS in it, and apply a thin layer over the affected area. Let it dry, and reapply every one or two hours throughout the day.

4 Home Remedies for Cold Sores

Toothpaste isn’t the only home remedy that you can try if you want to get rid of your cold sore quickly. 
While the most effective treatment for cold sores is targeted prescription medication, a lot of people swear by these four home remedies.

Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the most common cold sore home remedies is putting apple cider vinegar on it. 
However, make sure you dilute the apple cider vinegar with water, as the full strength of the liquid can do more harm than good on your skin.


Icing your cold sore can help lower the irritation and inflammation. Wrap some ice or frozen peas in a kitchen towel, and place it on your cold sore.

You’ll want to avoid freezing your skin with direct contact with ice.


Even if putting honey on your cold sore doesn’t get rid of it, it will definitely calm your skin down. Simply apply honey to the cold sore and let it crust over. Reapply as needed.

Lemon Balm

The antiviral properties of lemon balm can help get rid of cold sores quickly. Simply apply the lip balm to your lip and repeat as needed. 

Cold Sore Myths

Not all home remedies you read about work when it comes to cold sores. Some even harm your skin and make your cold sore worse. This is what you SHOULD NOT use to treat a cold sore.


While rubbing alcohol is a great disinfectant, it can cause stinging and irritation on your cold sore. Remember: a cold sore is an open wound. But, it’s not the same as the one you get from falling off your bike. There are a lot more gentle and effective treatments and home remedies for cold sores than alcohol. 


Bleach is a very harsh substance. It can irritate your skin, lungs, and eyes. Plus, it can burn any skin tissue it comes into contact with.
That’s why there’s a reason you need to wear gloves when you’re cleaning with bleach. While it’s great for cleaning bathrooms, it’s far too hard to be used on your skin. 

Please, don’t believe this cold sore myth. It’s not safe to put near your mouth.


We blame “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for this cold sore myth. Don’t put Windex or any kind of window cleaner on your skin, especially on your cold sore. 

It wasn’t made or tested as a skincare product. So, please avoid irritation, burning, and pain by never placing it on your lips (or any part of your body).

Talk to a Doctor about a Cold Sore

Cold sores may be common. But, you should still take them seriously. Taking prescription antiviral medication and ointments is the most reliable way to get rid of them. 

Still, it’s not always easy to talk to your doctor in person about cold sores.

Whether you’re embarrassed about cold sores or too busy to book an in-person appointment, you still have a right to the health care you deserve.

Luckily, you can chat to a 24/7 Doctor on-call from the comfort of your home using Carefree MD.

Our board-certified doctors can listen to your symptoms, get prescriptions sent to your local pharmacy when medically necessary, and give you personalized advice on treatment options.

For just $17.95 a month, all you need to access the convenience of telehealth is your phone or computer,  and a Carefree MD membership card. Get yours today to get effective treatment for your cold sore!  


The Carefree MD blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed doctor or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree MD Card is not insurance and Carefree MD is not an insurance provider.